Tuesday, June 28, 2005

buy the current (july) issue of the wire (or stand nervously speed-reading it for an extremely long time in your local Tower/hipster record store, in the process giving yourself a migraine you fucking cheapskate) for me profiling animal collective and ariel pink (and also a wee thing at the back on LTM's lovely Umbrellas In the Sun DVD of crepuscule/factory benelux videos which i really shoulda bigged up in the recent feelings/really feelings).

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Been a few hiccups with the Rip It Up site but finally some proper content: update your link to this (the url I mistakenly gave here originally, leads to a kind of derelict practice site) and then look under Interviews for the transcript of the conversation with Green. I tidied up my side of the dialogue a bit (not that much) but altered Green's not one whit: he actually talks like that, these perfectly formed literary sentences, long roaming ones with subclauses and divagations, almost always infallibly reconverging to reach a conclusion. "'E talks like a boook, that Green Gartside". News, Footnotes, and other content to follow in a steady flow henceforth.
Something I forgot in that bumper bookcrop round-up: The Rock Snob's Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge by Steven Daly and David Kamp. Daly's a smart cookie (I was going to write "that rare thing, the intellectual drummer", then remembered Chris Cutler, Robert Wyatt, Charles Hayward, dozens of them, I expect...). Still this is a curious exercise (are you meant to laugh? actually use it as a reference book?), suffused from the core outwards with a kind of bad faith, in so far as it flaunts the knowledge it professes to disdain. It's sorta Pop-ist in its "I've grown out of all this" stance, yet ultimately too attached to the rockist totems to relinquish them in favour of Kylie or Britney, good honest pop entertainment. So the book tries to have its cake and moan about it: out-hip the hipster while discrediting the hipster impulse, impugning the latter's enthusiasm for the unknown and outlandish as merely a risible Bourdieu-esque exercise in accumulating arcane knowledge as a means to social distinction and cultural capital. The result of these contradictory impulses is an arch tone of mandarin disdain that come over more supercilious than any actual insufferably-cooler-than-thou type you might ever have come across (or be, even!). On the plus side, it's actually quite an informative read (I was surprised by the number of scraps--and the occasional entire swathe--of "arcane knowledge" I'd not managed to accumulate after two decades of avid pursuit of same). There are also, naturally, a fair few surprising absences and errors (plus some utter bizarreness: who on earth refers to Dylan as "Zimmy"?!?!). Pointing this sort of thing out, of course, walks straight into the trap set by the book. Still I can't resist reprinting their description of John Martyn as an "affably rootsy, gracefully aging, Scottish singer-songwriter whose catalogue is ripe for the Bonnie Raitt treatment".
Kudu are just great--the gig totally lived up to Dominic's hype. Imagine ESG meets the Banshees of "Peek-A-Boo". The singer looks like Cory Daye but her voice is like Siouxsie with serious diva technique; like if Sioux had decided-- after "Cocoon," the "jazzy" number on Kiss In the Dreamhouse, and "Right Now", the showbizzy, razzmatazzy Creatures tune--that she really wanted to be a nightclub singer. The result: tropicalized Goth, a weird meld of torrid and frigid, alluring and domineering. There'll be an album later this year on the new Nublu label.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

old skool/scene resurrection rave in brooklyn this friday:

Friday, June 24th 2005 / Dude, Where's My Scene?

GREENPOINT/ BROOKLYN, NYC

MAIN FLOOR:
FRANKIE BONES: sonic groove/storm rave. nyc
DB: breakbeat science/n.a.s.a. nyc
ADAM X: sonic groove/storm rave. nyc
JOESKI: maya recordings/chocolate factory. nyc
GONZO: limelight. nyc
DJ FUNK: dancemania, ghettobooty. chicago
DAVE HOLLANDS: minimal wage. nyc
SCOTT RICHMOND: satellite records. nyc
ODYSSEY: digital konfusion. nyc

IN THE JUNGLE:
ODI: digital konfusion. jungle sky. nyc
KECH: stuck on earth. nyc
CHRISTIAN BRUNA: camouflage. nyc
KAZPA: stuck on earth. smoove groove, li9X: camouflage. nyc
VANDAL: digital konfusion. nyc
MYKE & ALLIAS: koncrete jungle. nyc

there is a third, VIP room but who gives a shit about that...

Location:1500 capacity venue / Greenpoint, Brooklyn NYC / Voted NYC's best sound and light show by Club Systems Magazine!5 minutes from manhattan, Newyorkfuckincity!
3 rooms, one vibe!

Production: jukebox heroes & global clublife / Visual stimulation: funk tax

21 & over / invite only event

7pm-7am enter b4 12 am to ensure free entry!

RSVP via e-mail for free admission!!!!
all rsvp's must be emailed to events@globalclublife.com per each person attending!
One confirmation number and directions to event per e-mail rsvp!!!

Monday, June 20, 2005

geeta on growing up a disco fanatic.... in the grungy American Nineties
welcome return to full force of bloggscene don dada jonathon dale with this touching, scintillating paean to the music that helped him get through a most difficult 2004

(there was one arrrggh, did-i-just-fuck-up-majorly? moment for me in jon's list--his tantalising description ("you feel you are dancing inside the flesh-lined mouth cavity of a hilarious, benign organism") of a record i just got rid of in the recent purge... in mitigation the gig MoM did in nyc last year was gobsmackingly bad in a what-are-they-even-trying-to-do? way...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

... and here's erik davis interviewed by mark dery at the latter's blogg Shovelware/Gilded Hack ... an enthralling dialogue, triggered by erik's led zep IV monograph, but ranging across topics including the richness of the 1970s, nostalgia, critique versus connectionism, and over-intepretation as both virtue and Gnostic technique...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

… that book questionnaire reminded me of something I’ve been planning to do for a while, viz…

Blowing Other People’s Trumpets aka 2005's Bumper Book Crop

On a few occasions I’ve put forth the proposition that a musical genre’s vitality is in inverse proportion to the number of books written about. So I’ve been speculating semi-seriously about whether 2005’s impressive harvest of music books betokens some kind of across-the-board slide in popular music’s vital signs! Consider the near-synchronous arrival of hefty, definitive tomes on hip hop and disco, Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop [which also marks my debut as what the publishing industry charmingly calls a blurb-whore] and Peter Shapiro’s Turn The Beat Around. That’s, like, two massive zones of music history, done--bang, bang, nails in the coffin! Only slightly smaller in scope: Barney Hoskyns’s Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters & Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-76, due in November on 4th Estate [another blurb from me]. This book focuses on the milieu of country-rockers and troubadours clustered around Laurel Canyon and David Geffen’s Asylum label--The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Warron Zevon, Judee Sill, Crosby Still Nash & Young, J.D. Souther, Tom Waits.... Yeah, it's surprising that nobody thought to do this already, considering it was, like, the biggest selling album-oriented rock of the American Seventies, and comes complete with a compelling narrative arc from Sixties dreams into decadence. Equally rich in potential (I can’t vouch for whether it’s been tapped or not) is the Detroit rock scene of MC5 and Stooges, as put through the academic ringer in David A. Carson’s
Grit, Noise, and Revolution : The Birth of Detroit Rock 'n' Roll, while Ashgate recently put out Michael Brocken's The British Folk Revival 1944–2002 (again no idea how well it's been executed). On the more fanciful or theory-driven level, there’s Alexander G. Weheliye’s Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity (Duke University Press, out any day now) which sounds like it could a penetrating probe into the Kodwozone, and Frank Kogan’s career-spanning anthology of speculations and provocations Real Punks Don’t Wear Black (University of Georgia Press, late this year). Also of note on the academic front: Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, by Mark Katz (University of California Press) which got the thumbs-up from Alex Ross in New Yorker and Freedom of Expression: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity, by Kembrew McLeod. Adding to the bounty by falsifying the year’s returns, as it were, two crucial reissues: Evan Eisenberg’s classic study of phonography and collector-itis The Recording Angel, and Joe Carducci’s indispensable Rock and the Pop Narcotic [both, you guessed it, endorsed by yours truly the blurb-slut].

This season, even the biographies and monographs are a cut above: Erik Davis’s fascinating treatise on Led Zep’s IV (in the Continuum 33 1/3 series) (the sigil stuff gets a bit much
but the portrait of Jimmy Page as sonic sorcerer, a studio-magus to rank with Perry, Macero or Hendrix-Kramer, is revelatory), while Michael Bracewell’s forthcoming Roxy book promises to be a treat.

As rich subjects go, Zep and Roxy are no brainers. Far more improbable was the arrival of compelling books on Laibach and Spacemen 3. From MIT Press, Interrogation Machine by Alexei Monroe (attention Kpunk: foreword by Slavoj Zizek!) scrutines not just the Slovenian band (still doggedly releasing records via Mute--Daniel Miller really is incredibly loyal to his artists, isn’t he?) but the whole NSK (Neu Slowenische Kunst) organization with its parody-of-totalitarianism (or are they for real? we'll never know), parallel art-collective Irwin, parallel dance troupe whose name I forget; the whole 20 years plus enterprise culminating in the creation of a fake nation-state complete with passports, paperwork, uniforms, flags, and for all I know their own gulags! You could say Laibach originate entirely from a single, er, single by Throbbing Gristle: “Discipline,” with its front sleeve pic of the group posing outside the building that once served as the Third Reich’s Ministry of Propaganda. And indeed Interrogation Machine reminds me a bit of Simon Ford’s Wreckers of Civilisation, both for its meticulous, unstinting detailedness and the powerful sense it conveys of industrial as the most content-heavy and intent-heavy form of music ever (in that sense, for all its refusal of rock’n’roll as sound, the most rockist form of music ever?) . I always thought Laibach the most ludicrous of groups (I recall reviewing their cover of “Sympathy for the Devil”, which came in about six preposterously over-orchestrated versions and took about 40 minutes to listen through, making doing the singles for MM even more of a dead-by-dawn ordeal; also saw them live once--the antlers! the belch-rasp vocals!). But this book almost makes me want to put on the recent Laibach Anthems collection for a reappraisal. Almost.

I think the Laibach gig was at the same West London venue, an out-of-the-norm place whose name I forget (a short stroll Thames-ward from Hammersmith Palais), that hosted my one-time-only live Spacemen 3 gig. That was a bit underwhelming too. But Erik Morses’ s Spacemen 3 & The Birth of Spiritualized (Omnibus) arrived early this year to remind me what a great group they were. This is another hyper-researched labour of love, full of fascinating details on the internal micro-politics of the drug scene in Rugby (no, really, it’s fascinating), the almightly battles of ego and struggles for creative control within the band (skillfully woven from overlapping and contradicting accounts from the different principals). plus a whole speculative theory element dealing with the Dreamweapon side of S3 (Morse referencing Artaud, Deleuze, the genealogy of the (schizo)drone, the necromancy of radiophony). Any book that starts with David Stubbs’ 1988 end-of-year Melody Maker oration to the effect that 1988 was the Best Year Ever for Rock (no, it’s true, we seriously believed that, and it’s any 25 year old’s right to believe that, any year, but you’ve got to make the case for it, which Stubbsy did, abundantly) is naturally off to a flying start with me. And certainly part of the appeal, for me personally, is that Dave Cavanagh Magpie Eyes-effect whereby some of the historical agents in this story are, like, people who I’d have rung up to blag records or get on the guest list! A buzz too to see the pic on page 208 (that was my idea, have them pose in front of the derelict synagogue down the road from my flat on Effra Road --the piece was going to be about the God/drug/love/salvation nexus, see. I remember Jason fleeing ghost-faced before the intervew proper began, and Sonic rolling a spliff in my living room, smoking it and not passing it around--not even to the rest of the band!). (Talking of which I just saw Pierce on Later with Jools, performing with a full gospel choir, a string quartet and a horn section--bejaysus! Ladies and gentlemen we are farting into space). Reading Morse's book, it's also nice to be reminded why junkies are so irritating (even when they’ve cleaned up and repented, almost without exception you can tell they’re secretly proud of their edge-walking exploits), and it's interesting to contrast the different receptions of S3 in Britain and America (where the cult was largely based on Sound of Confusion and Perfect Prescription--two records I’ve never quite clicked with, whereas Playing With Fire seems to be operating at a whole ‘nother level). Another thing I'd clean forgotten was that whole feud/taking-sides thing re. Loop versus Spacemen 3. Hampson clearly was an acolyte-admirer (and whether the Loop records stand up at all is one reason for my trepidation at the inevitable rediscovery of the late Eighties that awaits in the near-future). But the charge that Loop ripped S3 off seems silly if only because S3 themselves came so encumbered with debts to precursors, literally remaking a Stooges song into “OD Catastrophe” and signposting their Hallowed Ancestors with cover versions and citations galore.

Morse’s book arrived at a point earlier in the year when I was giving some thought to this idea of the Rift of Retro--trying to pinpoint when exactly a breach in the sense of rock temporality occurred, with an ever-largening amount of its attention going to its own past. Obviously there had been revivalisms and period stylists in rock for a long time, going back to Sha Na Na, or Creedence Clearwater Revival, and there had been instances where progressive artists took a step back and did period exercises or back-to-our-roots numbers (e.g. Beatles doing “Back In the USSR”). But at certain point in the early-to-mid Eighties it seemed like the leading edge of rock became the retreating edge of rock, as it were, i.e. the sort of bright, uber-hipster people that only a few years earlier would have been pushing the envelope, advancing, talking futurist talk, etc, started to do very precisely the opposite (I always think of the fact that Primal Scream's origins partially lie in a PiL-inspired band of Gillespie's). They were no longer forward-thinking, they were backward-thinking. In Rip It Up's afterchapter I pinpointed J&MC as a decisive moment in that rift-shift, but you could equally point to Spacemen 3, who were doing the same kind of rock-scholarly, heavily-citational work at the same time as J&MC but only started to get (UK) press attention some years later. Then again, you could equally argue that Orange Juice pioneered that pastiche approach, and that New Pop as a whole legitimized a heavily referential postmodern approach (think of ABC with their lyric borrowings from Smokey Robinson etc, or Scritti’s Percy Sledge “when a man loves a woman” sample in “Getting’ Havin’ and Holdin’”), and that this approach was then taken up by what became indie-rock. Of course, in so far as the past was a foreign country, unfamiliar to a lot of us who’d been so now-focused during punk/postpun/new pop, it felt like an adventure to explore Sixties and early Seventies music. It wasn’t a case of rediscovering this stuff, but discovery pure and simple, since we’d not lived through it (well biologically we had lived through the Sixties/Seventies, but not in the pop-conscious consumer/participant sense). But this feeling that some kind of collective decision was made to go back, and this being if not a turning point then a tipping point, chimes with my memories of how it went down at the time. Initially it was disorienting--I remember actually being disconcerted by how mundane the sound of The Smiths was, the plainness of drums and bass and jangly guitars, when I heard them for the first time on those Radio One sessions, compared with recent extravagances like the Associates, and it took me a while (and a Barney Hoskyns article actually) to fall in love with them (they became, of course, probably my favorite band of the Eighties). Increasingly I wonder if the rift-shift was something that could have been averted… or whether the retreat from the present somehow analogized the defeats of that particular present (the re-elections of Thatcher and Reagan), in the same way that so much of late Eighties and early Nineties independent rock was rooted in a kind of aestheticisation of surrender.
Stop Press: Really Feeling Update

Lethal Bizzle, Against All Oddz (V2)
Weird thing, the best ones are the slow tunes: the feat. Kele Le Roc R&G ballad "Slow" and most of all the title track, an amazing eerie-melancholy evocation of what it felt like after the More Fire album flopped. Closer to spoken word than rap, it's kinda like a grime's counterpart to Go4's "Paralysed"... a man washed up, at his lowest point, feeling like he's "finished, no one". Nobody wanted to know... but now, career resurrected by "Pow", everyone wants to know Lethal Bizzle. "This world is so strange": "Against All Oddz" makes a perfect companion track for Kano's equally mellow-tempo tune "Sometimes," an odd doubt-creased pause in the MC's upward arc in which he seems to momentarily stand outside his own striving for the prize.
In both songs the young rappers seem almost to see right through the Game.

Friday, June 17, 2005

... and some actual proper vintage Baldelli mixes here [a Woebot Tip Off] although i hope you have better luck managing to download than me...
... Baldelli interview here [An Andy Cumming Tip Off] and Cosmic mixes galore here [an Ian Price Tip Off] on second page of "DJ Mix" section itself via "Mixtapes/Videos (games)"

Thursday, June 16, 2005

.... yes it’s time we rounded up some of that week-by-week exceptionality nestling amid the stagflatus....


Feeling

Avarus, Jattilaisrotta (Secret Eye)

Mitchell Bros, “Harvey Nicks”

The Books, Lost & Safe

Magic Arrows, Sweet Heavenly Angel of Death (Wobblyhead)

Juan MacLean, Less Than Human

The Desert Fathers, The Spirituality (A Woebot Turn-On)

Vitalic, OK Cowboy

Roll Deep, “When I’m ‘Ere”/”Shank”; “Heat Up”; “Shake A Leg” (from In at the Deep End)
Accordions rule! As do samba-grime novelty numbers (see also kano, “remember me”)

Terror Danjah, Industry Standard Part 2 EP

Dipset mixtape (An Ethan Brown Turn-On)

The Advisory Circle, Mind How You Go (Ghostbox mini-CD)

Isolee, wearemonster
Been waiting for this for years: Rest was pretty much my favorite album of whatever year it came out; however this initially left me not as whelmed as I’d expected. It sure is value for money in terms of the amount of details he’s folded into it, but the “wow, something changes every four bars!” factor comes over a bit fussy-busy, even goofy (more than a hint of
Herbert-itis), especially on the first four or five tracks. “Face B” is where the writhing strangeness of Rest really kicks in. But I expect I'll succumb fully in time.


Really Feeling

Lady Sovereign, “Tango” (from the Bitchin’ EP)

Kano, “Sometimes”, “I Don’t Know Why”, “Remember Me”, “Nobody Don’t Dance No More”, “Signs In Life”, “Reload It” (off Home Sweet Home)
Check the “War Pigs” riff and drum rolls (which I always thought were like breakbeats) on “I Don’t Know Why”

Duncan Powell, The Something’s Wrong EP
Sublime Todd Edwards clonework that kicks Akufen’s ass.

Public Enemies: Grime 05A (A Woebot Turn-On)

Sway, This Is My Promo Vol 1 and Vol 2

Eric Zann, Ouroborindra (Ghost Box)
The Willows by Belbury Poly (aka Jim Jupp aka Eric Zann) and Hey Let Loose Your Love by The Focus Group currently vying with Worn Copy by Ariel Pink as my fave albums of 05. Eric Zann = Jupp’s darker alter-ego and this is serious Satanic-rites in English corn fields wickerman biznis.

The Lickets, Fake Universe of Man (A Woebot Turn-On)

Ying Yang Twins, “Pull My Hair,” (from U.S.A)
With this and “Wait” Mr. ColliPark goes straight to the front rank of rap auteur-producers. “Pull” made me think of Sontag’s angle on literary modernism and pornography. The extreme focus (sensory, psychological, cinematic) entailed in the erotic transactions here depicted lends itself to a certain avant-garde intensification, most apparent in the stereo-placement and ultra-vivid chromaticism of the vocals, which tripped me out on the first few listens. This is one seriously psychedelic piece of music. But that’s the only sense in which this track is a turn-on.


Really Really Feeling

Kanye West, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”, “Addicted”, “Crack Music” (from Late Registration)


Retro-Feeling (Reissues)

Various Artists, Meridian 1970

Various Artists, Nao Wave
Various Artists, The Sexual Life of the Savages

Renaissance: The Mix Collection Remastered 10th Anniversary Edition mixed by Sasha and John Digweed
…weeeeeell, yes, I’m pretty surprised too ‘n all…


Retro-Really-Feeling (Reissues)

X Ray Spex, Germfree Adolescents

The Stooges, The Stooges; Funhouse


Retro-Feeling (Not reissued)

Alwin Nikolais, Choreosonic Music of the New Dance Theater

Steeleye Span, “Wee Weaver,” “Skewball” (from Ten Man Top)

Edgar Froese, Aqua

Cosmic Privee 08 mixed by DJ Daniel Baldelli
Years back I got a garbled but most intriguing account of a scene called Cosmic in Northern Italy/the Tyrol (where Moroder came from), a fellow regaled me with second-hand stories of lakeside parties and hippy-disco types tripped out and dancing to a mix that allegedly blended late Krautrock and Moroder/Cerrone type eurodisco. This must the source of the legend, Cosmic being a club situated by a lake, at which Baldelli played a peculiar blend of disco-y Italoprog and prog-scented electrodisco. If this mix, archival or recreated I know not, is any reflection, the sound involved lotsa clanky tribally percussion and ecstatic spurting synths, the whole thing suffused with a charmingly Euro-askew quality.A strange pocket of time I would like to investigate further.

J.K. Randall/Barry Vercoe/Charles Dodge--Computer Music

Shirley Collins and Davy Graham, Folk Roots, New Routes (A Worlds of Possibility Turn-On)


Retro-Really-Feeling (Not reissued)

Stockhausen, Gesang der Jünglinge/Kontakte

Fripp/Eno, “Swastika Girls”

Les Vampyrettes, “Biomutanten” (A Woebot Turn-On)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Dominic LaRuffa (whose surname also makes me flash on "Dominator") on Avenue C club/vybezone Nublu . In the further interview with nublu founder, talk touches on the microscene's key band Kudu, who despite their quite vomitous name sound really compelling from Dom's description--"They take some of the strongest music of the past twenty-five years –- early PiL and Siouxsie, dark Chicago house circa 86, deep junglistic UK hardcore circa 91 -- and set it all down in a savage NYC club act context". i hereby vow to check them out next tuesday when they play as part of the nublu festival. well it's only two and a half blocks away innit.
on tag

cheers for the thought Loki, embarrassed to admit I never read comix as a lad, I was into…. Punch. For a couple of years. And a bookworm, down the library three times a week. So I will answer Jon

1) Total number of books I've owned
Must be over a thousand, at least. Distorted by the fact that the wife gets sent so many through her job and I cream off more desirables than can physically read. There they are, a stack of good intentions, gazing down at me reproachfully.

2) The last book I bought
The last one acquired was Penguin By Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005 by Phil Baines (meant to pay but the friend who brought it over from England refused money). Before that.... I can’t actually remember, you know.

3) The last book I read
Tend to have many on the go, almost all of them never completed, an awful lot stopping about 1/3 the way in. Two right now I seriously intend to finish: Penguin by Design and Erik Davis’ book on Led Zeppelin IV/Zoso/Four symbols in the Continuum 33 1/3 series.

4) Five books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order)

(Submitted to only on the understanding that these are the handful-out-of-scores that first came to mind)

(The first three here are definitely “mean”, the last two are more like “had huge effect on”)

Ada, Vladimir Nabokov
Maldoror, Lautreamont
One of those Ballard short story collections: Terminal Beach, Low Flying Aircraft, The Best Short Stories Of...
The Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes
Rock and the Pop Narcotic, Joe Carducci

5) Tag five people and have them fill this out on their blogs

Stubbs, Gusset, Green Galloway, Sherburne, Riko










Friday, June 10, 2005

"They need just a few hours' sleep. They're prone to reckless behavior, sexual promiscuity, extravagant spending. They exhibit all the signs, that is, of what psychologists call ''hypomania'': an energetic, ebullient state that is a milder form of the mania associated with bipolar illness..... ''These people have a boldness and a self-confidence that sets them apart from the average citizen,'' Cass asserts. ''Hypomania is great for business.''"

from a piece on American hypomania

and here's a bit on stagflation possibly making a come back (cheers to Ed Torpey for the link)

strictly speaking it has no real applicability, but for some reason--just the sheer ugliness of the word maybe--"stagflation" seems like a good word to describe the state o' modern music: the combination of glut without growth. but then i speak with the jaundiced ear of one who's just gone through his backlogged stacks (in chaos after 2 years-plus focus on the Big Project), sorting and sifting, and finding a preponderance of "pretty good" stuff. Well, you could say that's cos i already sifted out the Exceptional on a week by week basis, but even so.... with so much of this pretty-good-but stuff, it's obvious how much care and effort and moderate inventiveness has gone into the records (this especially the case with electronic and dance releases, but also underground rap, indie-rock....), the integrity and intent behind it too, and yet who has room in their life to accomodate all this self-expression? But even with the hardest of hearts and sternest of ears, at the end of the week-long purge, there still survived a small mountain range of CD stacks stretching across the floor, arrayed according to current/reissue and urgent/not-so-urgent, and with an especially disheartening alp of deserves-another-listen-i-spose cresting above the other piles. At my estimate 400 hours of listening!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

kpunk, penetrating and provocative, on capitalism as bi-polar disorder, economic/political "realism" as sheer lunacy, and the rush/crash cycles of the post-Fordist economy.

Tangentially, a couple of books came out recently that attributed America's entrepreneurial eminence to the country having somehow become a magnet for manic personalities, who managed to entrain the whole nation's bio-rhythms to their own out-of-kilter ones: American Mania: When More Is Not Enough, by Peter Whybrow; and The Hypomanic Edge, by John D. Gartner. Sounds fanciful perhaps, but then consider this cultural fact: American workers get one or two weeks vacation time a year (c.f. four or five in the UK, even more on the Continent).

(In the most manic two years of my life, 1987-1988, I was on the staff at Melody Maker, and as an IPC employee entitled to five weeks vacation a year. In 1987 I took exactly zero weeks off, on account of being so buzzed up about current music: there was always something that had to be written about that week. The vacation time was rolled over to '88, but it being an equally maniacal and messianic time musically, I only managed two weeks off, leaving a total backlog across 2 years of 8 weeks. I really loved my job! In the end they said no more rolling it to next year and i was forced to take a couple of weeks off in December '88--not a great time for your hols, and in fact i mooched around London wishing I was at work. The rest of the holiday time was just lost. But that's an example of neophilia X workaholic = mania. Moroever, talking about biorhythmic out-of-wackness, a lot of the stuff was all written in all-night-sessions--no drugs, just coffee and the Will. If you get past the horrible cold-feverish i-feel-like-a-ghost phase around dawn when your body temperature dips, there is a point where the brain starts pumping natural stimulants. Mid-morning I would come into the office--no faxes in those days--brandishing my copy in a state I can only describe as Nietzchean. No coincidence, a lot of the Futurist manifestos were written after staying up all night).

Further tangentially, The Aviator is a portrait of the American enterpreneur as Nietzchean mania-c. He ends up in this mental-tic loop, doesn't he, at the end, muttering "way of the future" or "wave of the future," something like that, over and over? Seeing that reminded me of this early jungle track that samples and repeats "wave of the future", over and over. Rave, like capitalism, all about living like there's no tomorrow, creating a kind of budget deficit of serotonin, burning up one's future supply of neurological happiness, just as capitalism depletes unrecoverable resources. Aviator, and rave, also remind me of that great Lee Ranaldo line in Daydream Nation's "Eric Trip" about "fucking the future". (Possibly an unconscious echo of SY's Beat-rocker hero Patti Smith's line about "I don't fuck much with the past but I fuck plenty with the future"). Capitalism's all about speculating on futures, which is gambling, and gambling itself is a form of drugging the nervous system without recourse to drugs. You only have to look at the scenes on the floor at Wall Street, it's like a $$$$-rave. Of course a lot of them are on central nervous system stimulants anyway, coke's the only way they can keep up with the job.

Interesting that the modern age of bi-polar capitalism is dated as starting (in the piece Mark cites) as October 6 1979, with a decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates massively--ie. make money more expensive, a gift to the financier class--thus inaugurating the era of supply-side economics, when shareholders> producers. Roughly midway between the ascensions of Thatcher and Reagan. Although Carter would have still been in power (somewhat paralleling the way Callaghan's Labour, under duress from the IMF, started on Thatcherism before Thatcher took over). At any rate when the Fun Boy Three plaintively observed that the lunatics have taken over the asylum, they were spot-on.

(Maggie Thatcher famously only slept four hours a night, right?)

I wonder what "stagflation", that Seventies economic malaise you never hear about these days, corresponds to, in terms of psychological disorder. It seems like another "impossible" mental-economic state, but the inverse of mania. And just the word "stagflation" also seems somehow very British (they used to talk about the UK as the sick man of Europe, about the British malaise).

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Blimey, knock me down with a feather: a piece on rockism that actually hits a good portion of the nail squarely on the head (especially in the later part of the piece). Where I disagree with Mr. Bieritz is this oddly pragmatic view of rockist biases serving as a function in terms of sifting through the music overload, viz "Rockism’s greatest strength is reminding them that those filters, for all their baggage and potential harm, served a purpose too. " It does do this filtering thing, as a neat side effect, sure, but at primary level it's not about making one's consumer-life easier by eliminating certain genres from consideration a priori. Rockism primarily is positive and productive--it's a set of values, articles of faith even, which are in turns spurs to thought, feeling, action, partisanship, etc. Anti-rockism, in contrast, seems to imagine that it is somehow possible to achieve a non-ideological, "all gates open" relationship with a whole wide world of sound; a total translucence of self in which all biases, predispositions, inclinations, etc are dissolved. But even if this were possible, why would this be good? Isn't all criticism (and, at the non-verbalised level, all passion too) coming from a position? From a self that is both social and embodied. Isn't criticism by its nature always engaged, visceral, partisan, its "for" usually containing an implicit "against"? Judgement likewise is always on the basis of some kind of principles--aesthetic, political, ethical, etc etc. Anti-rockism, pursuing its negations to the limit, would open up a vast universe of un-principled prattle.

Mr. Bieritz also hits the nail on the head with his comment re. Anti-rockism as "antidote to rockism’s ills... listeners can use anti-rockism to correct rockism’s mistakes". Historically, that's how rockism as concept originated: as a self-correcting initiative within postpunk culture,
a way of resisting certain rigidities of thought and blindspots, hardenings of custom and expectation. C.f. the way that "politically correct" was originally a Left wing term, used to auto-critique fellow-travellers who'd got a bit too rigid in their thinking, too dogmatic in their pursuit of ideological soundness.

Although the anti-rockist concept (like "politically correct") has evolved some ways from its historical origin, it still strikes me as parasitic on rock in the sense that the urgency, such as it is, to the debate represents a kind of pallid ghost-effect of the original rock(ist) urgency. Anti-rockism is clearly intended as an emancipatory gesture--throw away all your preconceptions and mental fixities, unblock your taste and desire in receptivity to a vast universe of sound. But in the name of what exactly? What is the value or purpose of this "freedom"? If it is just about the right to a kind of consumer omnivorousness, it seems like a fairly trivial gesture. If it is about "understanding things on their own terms", again one wonders what is the ethical imperative behind this move? What is the improved understanding contributing to? It's not at all clear that musics come with terms-for-understanding obviously attached or easily accessible. You could define criticism as less the location of those allegedly immanent terms as the invention and imposition of them. A vigorous misunderstanding of a piece or form of music, launched from a defined position, might be more productive or entertaining than this supposed (unattainable, impossible?) blinker-less, floating-free encounter between the pop object and the translucent consumer self.
"They specialised in gleefully out of control gabba-garage, heavy on the boing-boing, filled with messy smears... There was a wide-eyed, ravey intensity about new brand flex mixes.... the cartoon, mangled arcade-gabba that emerges is the punkest, snottiest, grime out there." Silverdollarcircle, back, in full jumping-up-and-down-and-shouting-(but genial, like) force, with this lovely appreciation of that overshadowed and overlooked figure, the Grime DJ.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

more rough preparatory notes for the Neo-Rockist Manifesto
w
when worlds collide #2

Ying Yang Twins, "Ghetto Classics" (M. Crooms, D. Holmes, E. Jackson, A. Dudley, T. Horn, J. Jeczalik, G. Langan, P. Morley). Published by ColliPark Music/EMI Blackwood, Da Crippler Publishing/EMI Blackwood/SPZ Music, Inc. Recorded by Mr. ColliPark at ColliPark Studio, Atlanta, GA. Keys by Mr. Jonz. Mixed by Ray Seay at the Vault Studios, N. Miami FL. Contains a sample of "Beat Box"...

("sample" being understatement of the bleedin' year, the track is "Beat Box", albeit with Mr. Jonz duplicating Ms. Dudley's entire piano part trill for trill..)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

kpunk, fantastic, on Goth and Siouxsie,

Fascinating not just the abiding-ness of the Goth look on the streets of the UK and elsewhere, but its odd half-lives in music: sonic traces in nu-metal and in Grimm, even in emo (albeit mostly make-up and coiffure, admittedly, plus the "November Rain"-level over-ripeness of that recent My Chemical Romance video, the one set at a funeral).

Not to demur with Mark's analysis, which is spot-on, but one thing to acknowledge with the Banshees is a tension between the Dionysian and the Glam, Primal and Po(i)se, Fire and Ice, that runs through their music, which can be traced to their love of Can's "hypnotic revolving patterns of sound" (Severin), and comes out in Budgie's tumbly tribal drums, or the headbanging riff in "Monitor", or the carnal grind of "Slowdive", which is something like a porno version of Can's "Half Past One". This tension between the visual--Theatre/Tableau/Ceremony--and the sonic--Turmoil/Turbulence--already being present in some of their Sixties forbears e.g. The Doors, whom Severin for one loved, with their staged elements, Morrison as cinema student as much as season-in-hell poet-inebriate. And surviving even into the early Roxy--Manzanera's playing unique for having both a glazed, sculptural quality--sound you can see--and intimations of post-Hendrixian chaos and conflagration. Two different sides of the Pagan perhaps, the idol-atrous and the bacchanalian.

Last year I stumbled on a VH1 programme, a show from the briefly-reformed Banshees' recent tour of the USA, and was surprised by how powerful and engulfing the music was, how wild and heathen--at times even recalling the most churningly shamanistic parts of Tago Mago. From a bunch of middle-aged English people it was doubly impressive (you should have seen Sioux rolling around on the stage floor in her bodice). But it actually eclipsed virtually all the young bands I've seen live these last few years. And this was on TV, where live rock shows rarely come across well.